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Your brand’s stories are lenses, not windows

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

When people get together to talk about telling a “brand story”, often what we end up discussing is the overall value of the brand itself.

It’s hard to avoid and we quickly run into a dead end. But the brand story is different than the brand’s stories (#ApostrophesMatter). Let’s explore. Enough about me – tell me a story about me The reason marketers struggle with the brand’s stories is that brand values usually aren’t anything we can use as the foundation of a compelling story. Setting aside the symbol/logo, taglines, and core visuals, we are left with brand value statements that a company believes to be true about itself. For example, look at a Nike brand value statement:

“(Nike) brings inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world and if you have a body, you are an athlete.”

That’s really, really good, and helpful if you’re trying to understand what the Nike brand stands for and believes about itself. But for a marketer looking to create a new story within the brand, as the old English proverb says, “Fine words butter no parsnips.” In short, the storyteller won’t find these words terribly helpful because the idealized notion has already been fulfilled. It’s the equivalent of saying “tell me a story about how the world champion boxer wins at boxing.” A storyteller needs a point of view that establishes tension. The storyteller needs the pre-truth existence to build that tension and make the audience care about the values being sought. In the Nike example, the storyteller needs to understand a world where acquiring inspiration is worth pursuing. In the boxing example, we want rather hear a story about how the world champion boxer struggles to find love or respect. What stories are you telling? A brand’s stories (again #ApostrophesMatter) provide a different path to differentiation – one that’s especially important for challenger businesses looking to unseat bigger brands or overcome perceived or real product differences.

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By Robert Rose

Chief Troublemaker at The Content Advisory. Customer Experience Expert, Keynote Speaker, Bestselling Author

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